Since production was taking way too long to get underway, director Guillermo del Toro has left the pair of Hobbit films he was scheduled to helm. News courtesy of The One Ring states that he has bolted the project but will remain credited for his screenwriting work. His statement reads of nothing but a completely amicable split.
“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life”, says Guillermo. “After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures. I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty, but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wish the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director”.
That being said, Peter Jackson seems to be a bit more troubled by GDT’s departure from the project. He states:
“We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave the Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects”, says Executive Producer Peter Jackson. “The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermo’s strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA”.
“Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished” says Jackson. “New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work”.
So, GDT is out, there is considerable uncertainty about when, potentially even if, the Tolkein novels’ will see the light on the big screen. It’s a pretty ballsy move on behalf of the entire production to expect del Toro to extend his commitment to living in NZ and working on these films from an original 3 years to 6 years. That’s ridiculous, really. Is this something that matters? Not to me, considering I suffered through all three of the LOTR films and yes, I said, suffered. The Frodo fantasy films were not my cup o’ tea as it were, yet I felt compelled to see them for reasons that remain mysterious. Hype, I suppose, for one, but this is not a phenomena that works with me that often. Sitting through the first movie and subsequent hype building up the following films, for another. This essentially became a vicious cycle. That being said, I know that there is a rabid fan base for these films and The Hobbit project, so if you care to share your feelings on del Toro’s leaving of the project, please do.